Friday, 13 May 2016

219 Colouring Pencils
This blog post is about colouring pencils.   I’ll speak briefly about pencil sharpeners also but it’s primarily a post about the colouring pencils.

At the beginning of each school year I buy approximately 219 colouring pencils.    My first mistake might be refusing to buy a well-known brand due to how much it would cost.  Also enough of them end up in my boys' pencil cases to know these things go missing on the first day of school so I’m not wasting my money that way.  Instead I  pick up the pound shop pencils, supermarket own brand ones, that kind of thing.  Some might say, wasting my money another way.  Some might be right.

And at the almost end of each school year, round about now, those colouring pencils are whittled down to approximately three and a half.  

With both ends sharpened into a dangerous little point.   They get binned.

This evening I found a rogue pencil case absolutely filled to stuffing point with colouring pencils. 

They were all blunt.


I now have a blister on the third finger of my right hand from sharpening 73 of them.   The other 43 were binned as the nib fell out of them all on the sixth sharpen.

I am a broken woman.

So if anyone can recommend decent colouring pencils for the school year 2016/17 that won’t see me having to take out a second mortgage, I’d be mighty grateful.

Oh and also one of those fancy dancy electric pencil sharpener things that does all of the work for you.     

Please and thanks!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words

Or in my case one thousand pictures speaks just one word: No! 
Swiftly followed by, “Don’t want to” and possibly – very definitely maybe – “Would she ever just fek off with herself.”

Trying to capture a moment on camera with four kids is not easy.  I dread it every time.  Fortunately for us, we are rarely in a situation formal enough to warrant such a traumatic event.  

We generally have a much better success rate when we employ a stealth tactic; creeping up on them when they are not paying attention, press the shutter button (is there a shutter button on a phone camera?  Probably not) and shoot for your life.

They’re not even aware you are capturing their spirit thus endangering their lives (that’s what they make you feel like sometimes) and chances are there will be one picture in there, somewhere, with three out of four of them looking in the one direction.


I didn’t say anything about looking at the camera, however.  Just, you know, in one direction.   A random one. Any one will do.

We consider ourselves having done very well if one of them is not scowling or covering his face with his hands.   It’s only wonderful if none of them are doing the bunny ears stunt.

So why put ourselves through this torture?   Why indeed.   I needed to take some photos of them to accompany an article I am writing.    In fairness, we were offered a photographer.  Someone who would come out to the house to take care of the gory details.  (In hindsight that sounds great.)

But I’m allergic to professional people visiting my house and even more allergic to the clean-up that would have to be done beforehand.

(But we’d have a lovely photograph of the boys.  We don’t have many.)

Too late.  I politely turned down the offer.

Instead I issued promises.  I told the boys that if they co-operated and smiled their heads off at the correct times, resisted the bunny ears temptation they would be duly rewarded with a hot chocolate.

The fact they get one most evenings wasn’t mentioned.

I swore blind this most dastardly of photo events would only take ten minutes, fifteen tops and with one of their parents taking the pictures, it would mean they wouldn’t even have to change their clothes.   

Threats came next.    They were told that if they didn’t comply there would be no hot chocolates (hah!) and a photographer would come out to the house the next day and it would take all afternoon.  

They would be smiling for hours on end.   They’d have to shower.  Change their clothes.  I might even insist they get a haircut.

The screams of terror.

It was still a disaster. 

And they got their hot chocolates.   Looking through the photos later that evening there were one or two with bunny ears.  


It was the only way I could release some of the tension and frustration I was feeling.  How hard is it to smile anyway?   

If I could post out-takes/bloopers I would.  Or maybe not.  Here instead are a few quotes.

“Do you have to look so bored?”
“I’ll give you fifty euro’s if you smile.”
“Let’s all pretend we’re a happy family.  Just for this photo.   Ah, go on, please!”
“You can’t use those photos.  They look so forced.” (They kind of did!)
“Do I have a double chin if I look this way?”  (May or may not have been me.)
“Yes, Mammy.  You kind of do. In fact, it makes you look a bit like a frog.”  (Thanks!)
“Are we nearly finished yet.”
“I don’t want to smile.  I’m sick of smiling.  I hate smiling.  You can’t make me anymore.”

None of them were really suitable so it looks like I’ll have to go back to the drawing board.   right now, photo shopping sounds great!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Less Talk More Action

This weekend saw the fruition of two major events come to pass.    For the tenth year, Pieta House celebrated their annual walk, Darkness into Light, where more than 150,000 people took part in over 90 different Irish locations.   It was marked internationally in cities like Toronto, Sydney and Abu Dhabi.   Pieta House provides free counselling to those who have been affected by suicide or who are having suicidal thoughts.  90% of their income comes from fundraising events such as this morning’s walk. 

In a week where the government thought it best to move €12 million allocated to the mental health services to other areas of the executive.

The other event is perhaps a little less known.  Businessman David McGowan succeeded in his quest to bring a decommissioned Boeing 767 from Shannon airport to its final destination of Enniscrone, Co. Sligo where it will assume pride of place in the alternative transport themed glamping village.  He encountered many obstacles along the way but did not allow this to dampen his spirit or enthusiasm and with the help of several interested, unaffiliated parties, today is the day his dream has been realised. 

Both of these events have taken place without the help, aid or assistance from a government who spent the last 70 days deciding who our next Taoiseach would be.

The irony surely, can’t be lost here.

It seems to me, as I looked around this morning at the 1700+ strong crowd at my hometowns first Darkness into Light and at the Facebook pictures that are still uploading, all it takes is strength, determination, kindness, interest and sheer grit to get the job done.
Both undertakings were organised and completed by ordinary people.  People who live in this country.  People who do not have huge resources behind them.  Today our true spirit and worth was shown.    A little less talking and a little more action I think.

Our government could take note.